UAMS Among First Hospitals Using Camera-in-a-Pill

By todd

LITTLE ROCK – The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) today became one of the first hospitals in the United States to use a camera-in-a-pill to help diagnose acid reflux-related conditions of the esophagus.


For millions of people with chronic heartburn, the pill camera will replace the invasive, painful and more time-consuming endoscopy.


“It will definitely change the management of many patients in a positive way,” said Amar Al-Juburi, M.D., a gastroenterologist and assistant professor in the College of Medicine at UAMS. “For many people, this new technology has a significant advantage over the endoscopy.”


A traditional endoscopy is also more intensive because it requires sedation, Al-Juburi said. Patients typically have to miss a day of work and will feel throat pain for about two days.


The pill is especially good news for the more than 19 million people nationally who suffer from Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease, or GERD. According to health experts, most GERD sufferers do not monitor their condition despite the fact that 5 percent to 15 percent of GERD patients may have Barrett’s Esophagus, a condition that increases the risk of developing esophageal cancer, the fastest growing type of cancer in America. About 700,000, people have Barrett’s Esophagus.


Called the Pill Cam ESO, the device was cleared by the Food and Drug Administration in November and is the first such pill for evaluating and diagnosing conditions affecting the esophagus, the tube that connects the mouth to the stomach. It was developed by Given Imaging of Yokneam, Israel.

About the size of a large vitamin, the clear pill has cameras surrounded by flashing lights on each end. Once out of its package, the camera operates for about 20 minutes. Patients swallow it with water while lying down. The lubricated pill glides down the esophageal tract taking about 2,600 color pictures that are transmitted to a recording device worn by the patient. After 20 minutes, the doctor has enough images to make a diagnosis.


The disposable capsule is passed naturally, usually within 24 hours to 72 hours. The procedure requires no sedation and recovery is immediate.


Sixteen months ago UAMS also began using a pill camera for diagnosing conditions of the small bowel, the Pill Cam SB. That pill, using the same technology, also replaces use of an endoscopy for many patients.


UAMS is the state’s only comprehensive academic health center, with five colleges, a graduate school, a medical center, five centers of excellence and a statewide network of regional centers. UAMS has about 2,200 students and 660 residents and is the state’s largest public employer with almost 9,000 employees. UAMS and its affiliates have an economic impact in Arkansas of $4.1 billion a year.


UAMS centers of excellence are the Arkansas Cancer Research Center, Harvey and Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy and Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute.